Chile will hope to use their Pan American Games 2023 silver medal as a springboard to men’s World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger success when the competition gets underway in Dubai this weekend.
Los Cóndores Sevens finished second to Argentina on home soil in November, beating Sevens Challenger rivals Uruguay in the pool stage and HSBC SVNS side USA in the semi-finals.
That result came on the back of a promising Men’s Rugby World Cup debut for the 15s team in France, and the four members of that squad who helped their country to Pan American Games silver have also made the trip to Dubai.
Chile face a tough assignment in the opening Sevens Challenger 2024 tournament, though, having been drawn alongside Japan, last year’s winners Tonga and Portugal in Pool B.
Following this weekend’s action, the Sevens Challenger will head to Montevideo and Munich before the top four in the standings qualify for a standalone promotion-relegation tournament in Madrid at the end of May. Head coach Joaquin Todeschini believes his players have enough quality to go at least that far.
“After our silver medal in the Pan American Games we left with good feelings,” he said.
“We are confident but know that the three stages to reach Madrid are going to be very, very hard. The focus is on arriving [in Dubai] and fighting.
“We know Dubai is not decisive or defining, but it is already important to score points from the first stage. The group is very tough, and we know that we have to get through no matter what and reaching the semi-final is key.
“Then we have Montevideo (8-10 March), where we will have fewer travel hours which will give us a good [advantage].
“The goal is, obviously, to finish in those first four places to reach Madrid, but we do not want to get ahead of ourselves. We have our heads set on this week.
“All teams came very well prepared, which is good because we need this standard of competition. Speaking with the coaches, we know it's going to be a super demanding tournament.”
Chile will kick off their Sevens Challenger 2024 campaign at 14:36 local time (GMT+4) on Friday against last year’s champions, Tonga at The Sevens Stadium.
The Pacific Island nation finished 14 points and four places better off than fifth-placed Chile in 2023, but it was Los Cóndores Sevens who won their only meeting in the two tournaments in Stellenbosch.
Jose Escobedo scored the match-winning try in the final minute of their pool-stage encounter at Markötter Stadium at the end of April to secure a 22-19 victory for Chile.
Todeschini said: “The first match will be against Tonga and as in any tournament the first one is always the most difficult.
“We were able to beat them last year in Stellenbosch, but it was very hard. The match is going to be very important beyond the result because of the attitude.”